Daily Mail: Never mind the data, here comes the Muslim convert fear

For the Daily Mail, it turns out, when you cannot scare people with the facts, well, you can just scare them anyway, with a story about "Islamification".

For the Daily Mail, it turns out, when you cannot scare people with the facts, well, you can just scare them anyway. The nation’s biggest selling mid-market newspaper has suggested that an annual rate of around 5,000 conversions to Islam, could lead to a profound change in British society.

It reports:

The figure has almost doubled in ten years – with the average convert now a 27-year-old white woman fed up with British consumerism and immorality.

The numbers, revealed in a study by multi-faith group Faith Matters, have led to claims that the country is undergoing a process of ‘Islamification’.

Who has claimed this ‘Islamification’, the reporter does not enlighten us with. And what ‘Islamification’ amounts to, is also left undefined.

To put it in terms familiar to the Daily Mail, this 0.0032 per cent annual increase due to conversion, would lead, all other things being equal, to a doubling of the Muslim population every – wait for it – 213 years. It also amounts to a town the size of the grand metropolis of Shrewsbury every ten years.

So, setting aside these puny numbers, what could islamification mean? Could it refer to Muslims referring legal disputes to religious courts for voluntary arbitration, as Jews have done in the UK for more than more than 350 years? Or the extension of Muslim religious schools, following in the tradition of faith schools in the UK whose place in British society was cemented by the 1870 Education Act?

Futhermore, while the Faith Matters report reveals that most converts personally object to the use of the Niqab – female dress that covers all but the eyes – the Daily Mail illustrates the article using a photograph of two women wearing the garment.

Or could it be simply a case of dog-whistle reporting? Using an essentially meaningless term, which leaves the newspaper off the hook, while allowing the paranoid and racist to project their own meanings onto the phrase and stirring up fear. The newspaper’s headlines have given more explicit strength to extremists in the past.

At a time when the rise of the virulently Islamophobe English Defence League is seriously troubling communities across the UK, the Daily Mail should be more careful with their reporting.

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